Magpie Goose Katherine screenprinting pilot
To train interested job seekers in the art of screen printing and explore the viability of a screen printing studio in Katherine
In August/September 2017, directly following the textile design workshop facilitated by Tim Growcott and Millie Shorter, we offered training in screen printing to interested jobseekers from RISE.
Our trusty screenprinting / textile consultant Millie Shorter presented the opportunity to a group of jobseekers participating in Community Development Program / work for the dole.
Hosted over two weeks at Katherine Regional Arts (KRA), Millie ran the crew through colour mixing, printing technique (even and steady!), washing and caring for equipment, and all other necessary skills. Five people from the group demonstrated ongoing interest in the workshops and by the end of the two weeks, had mastered the skill and technique of screen printing. After Millie headed back to Darwin, they were keen to keep going without her!
The team working together to print
We ordered enough fabric and paint to print the new designs and engaged the five printers on a contract basis throughout September, October and November 2017. The first run of Stewart Hoosan's ringer design, Margaret Duncan's billabong design, Rhonda Duncan's Pandanus design, and Nancy McDinny's sea food design were all printed here in Katherine by this fabulous crew.
Martha mixing the coloured ink with the plain base
Millie pointing at some wet paint
The screen printing team all shared their aspirations to get off Centrelink and get a job. Some expressed an interest in 'making a career out of screen-printing' and others 'hope[d] to do artwork on screens one day.' They enjoyed learning a new skill, and being able to see the results of their work.
We are grateful to Katherine Regional Arts for allowing us to rent their screen printing workshop space for the duration of this pilot. As KRA does not have a screen-printing oven, we were very happy that our friends at Publisher Textiles in Sydney were able to heat-set all the newly printed fabric for us, before it was sent on to our manufacturers in Bankstown!
Margaret Duncan's 'Billabong' design (printed in Katherine) being heat-set at Publisher Textiles in Sydney
What we learnt
This was a valuable pilot program for us, as it enabled us to test our ideas and see if there was appetite for a screen printing venture in Katherine. There is! The screen printers we worked with all expressed an interest in gaining employment in screen printing, should the opportunity present.
We would love to support the establishment of a screen printing business in Katherine. We realised that we don’t have the capacity to set up and run this business (and continue to grow Magpie Goose at the same time), however we would definitely become a customer of this business if someone were to step into this space.
Cleaning the printing table to get rid of dust and fabric fluff
Setting up a dedicated screen printing studio would require considerable resources – rental of a suitable warehouse space (to house the long tables), the construction of a heat set oven, the purchase of silk screens and paint, and wages for management and staff. It would need significant investment or government support to establish a business of this nature, but it could create much needed jobs here in Katherine and provide printing services to remote communities throughout the Katherine region. The studio could bring in additional revenue streams by creating tourism offerings and retailing the fabrics printed on site.
We would love to see this in Katherine.
Andra and Aaron printing
Lining up the repeats of the screens to make sure it's seamless!
Where to from here?
As much as we like the idea of a screenprinting studio in Katherine, we are not in a position to drive this forward under Magpie Goose. We would wholeheartedly get behind anyone who is motivated and able to do so. Until such time, we continue to work with the fabulous printing team at Publisher Textiles in Sydney, and are grateful for their leadership and support of the remote textile industry.
- Maggie and Laura